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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Is 'Metal' really an adjective, or just a silly trend?

It bothers me that the word 'Metal' is used as an adjective. Let me get that right out of the way first of all. You don't hear other sub-cultures describing things as 'Chavy' or 'Post Hardcore' do you? But it seems that the word 'Metal' is becoming synonymous with behaving in a certain way, or thinking in a certain way, or descibing things in a certain way. How does this make anything 'Metal'? Isn't metal about freedom of expression, about being unrestrained from the chains of society? About being an individual, and not following trends or paths others have trodden before you?

Maybe it's just me, or even perhaps it's because I am getting older, but I have noticed music publications have been adopting this trend of calling things 'Metal', posting lists of 'The top ten most Metal films' or 'The top five most Metal places to visit'. What makes a film 'Metal'? Is it if it features stone writing in the title sequence? Someone screaming expletives in an aggressive tone? Perhaps demons and fire and semi naked women make it metal.

It seems the younger generation of metal fans (and those who feel the need to try and be 'cool') tend to adopt 'Metal' as a lifestyle. They then think the behaviour they portray is expected of them (be this getting extremely drunk, breaking things, or playing their music loud on the bus and shouting at anyone who gives them funny looks, fighting etc). While these things can be typified as typical human behaviour, they are at the extreme end of that very definition. How this can garner respect from their peers I will never understand. It's like applauding a friend for cutting off one of their fingers, or cheering them on as they disembowel themselves.

Maybe it makes the youth of today to feel accepted. To be 'Metal' is another way of generalising humanity. Another group to slot individuals into, and typify their behaviour. As humans, we do this with everything, as making lists of things helps us to get things in order in our minds. But I dislike to be put into a certain group of anything. I feel I don't need to be generalised. I don't need to be a part of a certain something, because that is only picking the parts of me that might appeal to others , whilst completely ignoring any flaws, which are also an inherent part of humanity.

The term 'Metal', when it refers to metal fans behaving or dressing a certain way, is very restricting, at least to young people who adopt the term today. In the 70's, Metal bands wore flares, flowery shirts and such like. In the 80's, it was all about tight jeans or spandex, long flowing hair (on men and women) and band t-shirts. Along with this rise of Heavy Metal, came Glam-Metal. Bands tried their hardest to look feminine, wearing lipstick, lycra, make-up and pouting any time a picture was taken of them. In the early 90's came death metal, where bands typically wore street clothes, such as combats, band/movie t-shirts etc. When Nu-Metal came along in the mid-late 90's, hip hop fashion was adopted by metal fans, as well as track suits (because Jonathan Davis from Korn always wore one) and baseball caps. I wonder if anyone using 'Metal' as an adjective would ever consider someone dressed in any of the aforementioned styles 'Metal'?

On the subject of clothing, let me tell you a little story about a night out I went on. We walked into our local rock club, which was populated by anyone with an 'Alternative' look, or 'a freak' as we were often called. My first stop, as always was the bar. There was a young guy at the bar, and I noticed everyone giving him funny looks because he was decked out in a baseball cap and tracksuit. I was wearing a Morbid Angel t-shirt, and this guy smiled at me and came and stood next to me whilst I ordered drinks. He told me how much he loved Morbid Angel, and how he saw them when David Vincent sung for them (Steve Tucker was the vocalist for them back then) and we had rather an interesting conversation about death metal. Later that night, people decided to mosh to Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', and I noticed some bespectacled guy in black lipstick pull the guy with the tracksuit into the middle of the room. As soon as the chorus hit, everybody began laying into him, pulling him around, pushing him with a genuine anger. The guy in the tracksuit had a huge smile on his face and was loving it, but the atmosphere definitely turned sour, and the look on some of the patrons faces was of pure disgust and hatred.

Why was this person victimised? Was it because he wasn't 'Metal'? Because talking to him, he was certainly well versed in the death metal bands of the 90's that's for sure. It wasn't because of the way he acted. It was because he epitomised everything anyone in that club despised by the way he dressed. That is what happens when things are generalised and a certain type of behaviour is expected of someone. I was disgusted that night, and didn't manage to see the guy again that night, or on any other of my visits to this club. But it made me realise something. That it doesn't matter if you are 'Metal' or 'Chav' or what ever other group you are going to place yourself in. It isn't going to make you any kinder if you are a metalhead, or someone who doesn't like metal at all. Liking a certain style of music has no bearing on anyones personality whatsoever. That is a fact. If you are a nice person, then you are a nice person. If you are an asshole, then whatever you do, that's the way you come across no matter your interests.

Generalising thing's as 'Metal is going to do nothing but make any fan of heavy music feel more segregated in the long run, and create a divide simply because if you don't act how you are expected to act, then you won't be 'Metal' anymore at least in the opinions of others. Don't buy into this idiotic terminology. Don't break down what was once one of the most close-knit communities the world over. Don't act 'Metal', because there is no such thing. 'Metal' is not an adjective. It is a style of music (or a solid material that is typically hard, shiny, malleable, fusible and ductile, with good electrical and thermal conductivity if you wanted to be pedantic).

It seems I can asking more questions than coming to any conclusion as to why people describe things as 'Metal', so I ask you my readers, to share your opinion on this, and whether you have noticed it as I have, or if you think it is acceptable to label things as 'Metal', feel free to comment!!

Darkest regards......Dani.

1 comment:

  1. You know, each time I think music and youth culture cant get any worse... I walk into a Hot Topic and it is sooo much worse.

    We're getting old, my friend! But its not just us, the youthes are getting worse.